Gary Heisey’s contributions to the missions of Blue Ridge Community College and the NC Community College System, as well as to the business development and economic growth of Henderson and Transylvania Counties, have been profound during his tenure as director of the Blue Ridge Community College Small Business Center. His accomplishments are even more remarkable given that he is the center’s only fulltime employee.
The Small Business Center is one of the top-ranked centers in the state, rated #2 for the number of Entrepreneurship Events offered, and #5 for Overall Business Assistance provided to business and industry.
In the 2013-14 academic year alone, Gary organized, marketed and oversaw 172 entrepreneurship training classes with 2,915 participants, and he personally taught 55 SBC training sessions;
In the same time period, Gary counseled 196 potential entrepreneurs, which resulted in 34 local residents starting a business, and the creation of 103 new jobs in the local economy.
Surveys reveal that 90 percent of SBC programs were rated excellent and very good, and 100% of those counseled through the Small Business Center rated the service excellent and very good.
Gary himself is a lifelong learner, participating in online training programs, attending seminars, and upgrading his certifications to stay current on best practices in business and life.
In addition to his job-related duties, Gary serves on the Blue Ridge Community College Marketing and Sustainability Committees. He serves on the boards of the Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, Transylvania Tourism Development Authority, on the Henderson County Chamber Small Business Committee and the Henderson County Chamber Business Development Division Committee among others.
In 2014, Blue Ridge Community College recognized Gary as their Staff Person of the Year. He has also garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, The National Association of Entrepreneurship and Mountain BizWorks.
Blue Ridge Community College President Molly Parkhill says of Gary that "he is a team player working with both the curriculum and continuing education side of the college, along with the Educational Foundation."
Julie Thompson, vice president of the division that houses the Small Business Center, sums up his nomination saying, “Gary’s specific accomplishments reflect his genuine interest in his clients, business acumen, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and knowledge of community resources… He is committed to the success of his clients and to the success of Blue Ridge Community College.”